Raising a special needs child who’s special needs are not visible can make parenting a challenge. Really that whole sentence is bull crap and the reason I say it is bull crap is because raising a special needs child is challenging regardless of the physical appearance, level of special needs or anything else you want to compare from one special needs child to any other child. Raising children is a challenge. Period. The end.
I am raising three very different children, sure you can pinpoint a similar trait between them all, if you are around them long enough, but overall, at first glance I bet you see that one child … my middle son who happens to be special needs. You do not notice my other two children who are mingling, smiling, laughing and having a grand ole time, you notice that one child of mine who is having a difficult time transitioning from the pool to the car or from the car to the park. You are seeing that child having a hard time and you look at me. You stare. As if I am the worlds worse parent, why? I honestly cannot answer that question. I do not know why you stare.
Clearly you have never had a bad day. Clearly you have never had a difficult time with something. Clearly you simply just do not have much compassion because staring or glaring or even whispering amongst yourselves is what makes you feel good. The thing about your whispers, stares and glares is that you are damn lucky it doesn’t affect my special needs child. My middle child has autism and his difficult times have no boundaries and no limits, meltdowns can be brought on by something minimal like a deviled egg sliding the wrong on his plate to the chair being tilted slightly, to the number of people around him. My middle child has autism and he doesn’t notice a thing that you do, for he doesn’t care. My middle child may be classified as special needs but I consider him lucky, lucky that he will not bare witness to the cruel ways people will look at him when he’s having a hard time. Lucky that, unlike you, he doesn’t give a damn about you, he only cares about himself and what’s going on in his world. You all that stare could take a lesson from my special needs child, because while he was born with some special needs; he is much more than that. My special needs child is the most honest, loyal and devoted child I have ever met.
In other ways, I feel that my son is not lucky. He will form so many close bonds with people who will be cruel and mean to him. My son will suffer some social awkwardness and yes, you will stare then too. You will stare at him as if he has done lost his mind, because after all, the only thing you see is a ‘normal’ young boy, who looks overall healthy, seems fine and has no physical disability or disinformation to his body that screams out ‘special needs’. I feel the pain he doesn’t feel. I have had to learn to be stronger as a parent, because of him. My son’s siblings have learned to be stronger because of him. My son’s siblings have learned to not stare at others differences, nor judge other people for their differences. Because of special needs child with autism, we have learned to have such a deeper level of compassion, patience and love that you, who are staring at my seven year old son … will ever have.
I say to you, those who stare at something that is appearing to be an unruly child, or a mother who doesn’t know how to parent her child, stop staring. Stop glaring. Stop whispering amongst yourselves. If you have a question about my parenting or my son, ask. I would much rather you ask, let me explain or you just stay the hell out of it. Go on with your marry way and not stare. My son wasn’t bothering you by his crying, was he? My son wasn’t bothering you when I had to restrain him as a means to whack him back down to planet Earth, was he? My son did nothing to you, right? Then stop. Have some compassion and maybe, just maybe, instead of staring at me .. lend a hand. Lend me a hug. Reach out to me.
More often than not, I am holding tears back, just below the surface and one wrong transition, one bad move, one every day situation for my autistic son can pretty much put me on the verge of a full meltdown of tears myself. Stop judging others. Stop thinking you are a better parent than me, because I am the last person who would ever say, think or feel that way about you. Ever.
While I hold back how I feel about your stares, I have learned to put that on the back burner, because in that moment all that matters is that I do what has been taught to me to do when my son is having that type of situation. I have been trained on how to handle my son and one of the biggest things that ensure I handle him properly, is to ensure I ignore your stares. I have to suck it up, to be honest, and not worry about that look I can feel you giving me, that burning sensation of your eyeballs glued onto my son and me. I have to ignore it. Meanwhile, I am breaking down inside. I am hurting. I am struggling, because being a parent to a child with special needs is a challenge. Raising kids is a challenge. We all need to have more compassion for others, parenthood is rough stuff people. Love more, judge less. It takes a village.